GROWING UP IN SUDBURY 1950's and 60's - PART 4
25 July 2022
(As I had mentioned in my previous blogs about growing up in Sudbury, I would certainly like to thank those who have taken the time to post the many related old photos into the public domain. I have used a number of these vintage photos to weave some context into my recollections – some have been cropped to highlight subject matter.)
I left off my last anecdotes with some memories of living across from the old Iron Bridge on Nelson Street when it was still the main north-south railway crossing in Sudbury. As I reviewed some additional photos that are out there on various sites, I thought I might update some of my recollections and add some additional context to growing up in that period.
We lived in this unique environment near the bridge from 1959 until the fall of 1967 when we moved to Wembley Drive, four houses east of Laura Avenue. This move was very early in my high school years at Sudbury High School. Although the move as the crow flies was only about a half mile away, it really changed our lives – our friends, our pastimes and just about every part of life to which we had become accustomed.
There were still plenty of wide open space in the “rocks” or “mountains” between Boland Avenue and Wembley Drive however once you hit your later teens, climbing around all day playing war and imagining other heroic efforts became less of a priority.
For the time being, these recollections will focus primarily back on the neighbourhoods I grew up in, and life in general around in and around Sudbury during the late 50’s to mid 60’s.
The Early Days of the “Four Corners” Area
As long as I can remember back to the mid to late 1950’s, the intersection of what is now Regent and Paris Streets, was known as the “Four Corners”.
My Mother lived in a big old house downtown on Cedar Street from 1928 until 1948 – located where the Canadian Tire parking lot of the late 50’s and 1960’s was later situated. Her father John McEachern, superintended the re-opening of the Gold Mine at the south end of Long Lake in 1937 (then called Lebel Oro https://www.mindat.org/loc-263912.html).
The trek to Long Lake in those days was a long one – in 1937 and 38, he would normally drive Lorne Street to Martindale Road to get across Lily Creek (the only crossing at that time) drive to the intersection of Walford Rd. (formerly McLeod Rd.) and then follow McFarlane Lake Rd to what would become the “Four Corners”. He would then turn onto Long Lake Road to travel south – a well travelled route but a rough unpaved road back in those days.
The rock face at the west end of Ramsey Lake above the Lily Creek outlet, required a substantial rock cut to forge the route for Paris Street shortly after that time – I understand the early forties. There were quite a few Finlanders settled in the area around “Trout Lake” by that time (as well as Long Lake, Wanup and McFarlane Lake) so there was a well-traveled road accessing the Four Corners and beyond a long time back. It did not connect to the highway to Toronto until the mid 50’s which changed everything in the neighbourhood.
You will notice from this photo the Sudbury General Hospital - early 1950’s, that Paris Street looks like a bit of a goat path beyond the hospital heading to the south. However from late 40’s pics of Nickel Belt Airways at the west end of Ramsey Lake, you can clearly observe a two lane paved road. You can notice offset to the left in the background, where Paris St. continued on to Walford Road and beyond. From this angle you can see what a complicated architectural departure the General Hospital design was from the Memorial Hospital construction a few years later?
Our family moved from John St. near Bell Park to McFarlane Lake Road in 1954, to the house that was later annexed to the back of StarLite Cleaners for many years. It was located beside what would later become Pit’s House of Treasures on one side and even later, Motel 69 on the other. The Bouchard’s lived in the house that would become “Pit’s” and next to them were the Flowers family. Beyond their house towards Gloria’s Restaurant were the Koski’s. In the other direction leading to the Caswell Motor Hotel and next to us, there was a dwelling inhabited by a couple named Gloria and Adrian. Their place was known by my parents, and then us kids, as the Tar Paper Shack” – which it was!
Our neighbours, the Bouchard’s house would later become Pit’s House of Treasures – a very popular Sudbury landmark for many years. On the right would be our house just out of site, and on the left was the Flowers family home – it became a Cortina Pizza outlet for a time in recent years. The “rocks” are in behind where a rabid fox reportedly once roamed?
Mr. Flowers worked for the MNR and I believe he owned the only Citroen DS in Sudbury at that time. It was a very weird looking car butwhen driving around it seemed like you were riding on air - because you actually were. Compressed air lifted the car several inches into the driving position when you started it up. I’m not sure where you could buy these French manufactured vehicles in the late ‘50’s but it was certainly a prized possession. I caused quite a kerfuffle one time when I went out to Coniston with the Flowers family to visit some of their friends. I managed to step on some dog poop playing on the street and I inadvertently tracked it into the rather fancy interior – Mr. Flowers wasn’t too happy and I probably got a life time ban from the fancy ride!
This 1956 Citroen DS was the same as the Flowers’ car - the family who lived two doors over from us on MacFarlane Lake Road. It had an almost futuristic look for the mid-fifties and it was a rare vehicle in Canada!
This area did not have municipal sewer or water services in those days as part of McKim Township. The water well that we had apparently was not very deep and during the summer of 1955, when my sister Chrissy was born, my Mom told me it was the hottest and driest summer on record. The well dried up and Mom was in dire straits trying to deal with 4 young boys and a newborn and no water to undertake all the daily chores. My Dad ended up hand digging a well out in the front yard to try to hit the water table a little deeper down.
It took him a while to dig and I can recall the warnings to stay away from the big hole which was covered with boards when he wasn’t hand shovelling. He eventually got down to the water table, it must have been 10 or twelve feet down (no shoring or safety precautions when digging in those days). Then some men came with a boom on their truck and lowered concrete cylinders upright into the hole to create a reinforced sump for the water pump. We were okay after that but it illustrates that not long ago modern conveniences, now taken for granted within any urban area, were not at hand in many cases.
When we lived on McFarlane Lake Road, we went to McLeod Public School on Walford Road. The regular walk to school was around the rock cut across from what was then the newly built Gloria’s Restaurant, and we continued to the school along the main roads. At times when weather permitted, we climbed over the rocks and took the direct route as the crow flies over the hill, cutting the walk almost in half. This was fine until my Mom heard about a rabid fox roaming around “Lockerby” which put an end to any solo travel – if we went over the mountains, all the kids had to walk together and keep a close watch for the “killer beast”.
Gloria’s Restaurant soon after opening on McFarlane Lake Road.
Work on the Highway 69 connection from Sudbury to the Severn Bridge near Midland, had commenced in the late 1940’s. The progress was incremental, as Sudburians have experienced with the ongoing present day four lane connection. In the early 50’s even as completion neared, there were detours which created significant inconvenience, making the route less desirable than the original route from Toronto to Sudbury through North Bay. It was not until 1955 that the final link from French River to Burwash was finally completed that travelers could then enjoy a direct link to Toronto heading south from Sudbury. As mentioned above, this was a turning point for the Four Corners!
An early shot of the Royal Motel – a short distance west of the Four Corners – shortly after Highway 69 was completed – Robinson Subdivision just springing up in the distant background.
Aerial photo from 1956 of the Four Corners- lots to see here! Our house would be the third house from the top on the right hand side of the road. Just to the south is the brand new Caswell Hotel with the old Finnish athletic club quarter mile track in behind. In the upper centre-right you will note the significant settlement of mostly Finlanders on “ Trout Lake”. The new Highway 69, now connected to Toronto is on the lower right with Loach’s Road just out of the photo.
Even after the highway connection was completed and commercial development started to increase, the area was still in the “backwoods” of Sudbury. I recall that although we didn’t have a lot of amenities as mentioned before, we did have a milk man deliver bottles of milk to our house which was along his Palm Dairies route.
Unfortunately, one cold winter day my brother Jimmy, just a kid of 5 or 6 years old, was grabbing the milk off the steps and he slipped on some ice. He dropped the milk bottles which broke and he then stopped his fall with his hand right on a large shard of broken glass causing a very serious gash to his palm and severing some tendons. My Mom rushed him off to the hospital and considerable reconstructive surgery was required to repair the tendons and stitch things back up. Luckily the surgery was successful and Jimmy probably could have become a concert pianist afterward had he so desired.
I remember the peculiar looking milk delivery trucks used by Palm Dairies for many years from the 50’s through the 60’s. They were very distinct with the snub nose and sliding doors – they looked like relics from another time actually. All of these milk delivery trucks around Ontario at the time were made by DIVCO (Detroit Industrial Vehicle Company) and were designed to allow the operator to drive standing up with controls for throttle and brake on the steering column – and bi-fold doors on each side which were often left open for easy exit. The back compartment was originally refrigerated with ice but later models had full refrigeration. The design went largely unchanged by the manufacturer for 50 years from the mid 1930’s to the mid 1980’s so that’s probably why they had the retro look even in the 60’s.
A 1955 Palm Dairies DIVCO milk delivery truck (this one is from Calgary, the Sudbury ones had the same background colour but with plain mono colour logo and printing)– a very unique looking and functional vehicle kept the same design for over 50 years. I recall in later years how good a pint bottle of Palm Dairies chocolate milk was in the bottle with the little tab on the top which when pulled back, made way for your straw through the cap – absolutely a divine treat and just never the same out of a carton!
Typical milk bottle cap with the little pull tab – for a pint of chocolate milk you just flipped up the tab and stuck in the straw!
Most all intersections have four corners, so it is somewhat puzzling why the moniker stuck for this particular location. The Caswell Motor Hotel had sprung up along with a couple of gas stations and other motels in short order.
The Caswell Hotel in the late 50’s soon after opening and before the new stone façade was added.
Workers adding the stone façade to the Caswell – early 60’s.
As well, Gloria’s Restaurant had opened up in anticipation of the new thoroughfare which would soon replace Highway 17 as the main highway artery of the city. The Memorial Hospital followed shortly thereafter in 1956 and the Regent Street causeway was built around that time to improve access to the new hospital, and to Highway 17 West (Lorne Street) from the Four Corners (until you hit that crazy Killer’s Crossing!).
The Memorial Hospital in around 1961 – a functional design with no pretentions to be anything more than a place to get fixed up – no bells and whistles for sure.
Near the end of our time on McFarlane Lake Road, folks from the Berean Baptist Church came canvassing our street to invite the rural families to come and visit the church. My Dad was quite a character in those days, largely influenced by his days in the Navy, and he enjoyed drinking, smoking and cursing too much to get coaxed into attending church (at least until a few years later, when he finally gave in). My mother was the opposite and she quickly enrolled the kids in Sunday School. At that time it was a satellite gathering on Sunday afternoon, not at the main church down on Pine Street, but in the Wheaton family’s basement on Armstrong Street down Loach’s Road.
This was the start of our association with this church which would shape a big part of our agenda for many years growing up (begrudgingly for some of us kids). The Sunday School would later get moved to the basement of R.L Beattie School when it grew too big for the Wheaton’s home.
West End of Ramsay Lake shore 1958-59 (“The Snack Bar”)
Soon after joining the Sunday School we would move to the green house beside the Snack Bar at the west end of Ramsey Lake. In later years after moving to Nelson Street, my Mom always referred to their enterprise at the west end of Ramsay Lake - the diner and SuperTest gas station and garage collectively, as the “Snack Bar”.
The marina across Paris Street at the west end of Ramsay Lake was a very busy spot and provided plenty of action for us young kids to enjoy. With my Mom running the venture seven days a week and my Dad working full time at the CPR driving locomotives and then moonlighting at the gas station, we were basically unsupervised and the “world was our oyster” as they say.
There was a little shack about 50 metres back from our house right at the toe of the steep slope rising up from Lily Creek. It was quite old and dilapidated but it had an old rusty bed and bedspring inside – a great place to explore and hang out. I wonder if this shack was were the hermit lived for which nearby Hermit’s Bay was named?
The Snack Bar, garage, SuperTest gas pumps and our green house at the west end of Ramsay Lake summer 1959 – our ’55 Plymouth beside the house. I remember the garage didn’t have a hoist but rather it had an oily wet concrete pit with stairs where my Dad would sometimes go down under a car and do an oil change with one of those old wooden handle “trouble lights” hung off the tailpipe.
1950’s wooden handle “trouble light” used in the old dingy garage pit.
The house at the Snack Bar had a sand floor in the basement and it was located just metres from the Lily Creek marshland. This was the worst of combinations. The basement got infested with rats, which had burrowed in under the wall from the creek. We were not allowed to go into the basement or open the door which led down there for fear the critters would get into the main floor living area of the house. My Dad got a fumigator in to “do” the house in order to relieve the problem. I can still recall the residual smell of some awful mind altering chemical which lingered for months afterward – it was almost unbearable and perhaps I think we might have preferred the rats!
The Swain kids in 1958 (from left Billy, Johnny, Chrissy, Bobby, and Jimmy) on the front porch of the green house beside the “Snack Bar” waiting for a ride to Sunday School located in “Lo-Ellen Park”. The pic was taken by my Grandmother, Christina (Davey) Swain, with her old 1940’s vintage “Brownie” Camera. I can still recall the image of “Granny” looking carefully down at the sight on top holding the camera at waist about height to aim and depress the button for the shutter.
1940’s Brownie Camera – these little boxes were the most common affordable home camera in the day and the corners on the box got rounded off during the 50’s with a more streamlined design. My Grandmother took care of that thing like it was gold – probably her most prized possession (other than her family heirlooms of course).
Back in those days, Paris Street did not run directly across the marsh beside the football field where it is now located (fill was dumped into the marsh to create the road and athletic fields). It formerly curved around the rock outcrop to the left as you headed south. There was a house that we called the “Big White House”, which was located just around the corner before the intersection with Ramsey Lake Road. The house had several families with lots of kids residing there and I don’t recall any fathers around – perhaps they were out working somewhere? The large building was very rundown at that time and the families got by with very little means. Sometimes my Mom provided something to eat when one of the Mothers would stop by with hungry kids in tow. Other than the couple of modern looking homes, then being newly built on the cliff above us in the late 50’s, the Big White House was the only other dwelling in our neighbourhood.
After moving from McFarlane Lake Road to the end of Ramsey Lake, I would sometimes take the bus to go back to our former house to visit my neighbour Donny Flowers. The bus would stop at the intersection of Paris Street and Ramsey Lake Road and then drop me off at the city bus stop in front of the Caswell Hotel - a 6 year old kid taking the bus back and forth between neighbourhoods by hum or herself was nothing special in those days.
Travelling back and forth along Paris Street (in the days before the Casadolpho and Lakeshore Manor Apartments got built), there wasn’t much going on in those at that time. I do however remember the fleet of what was considered in those days to be odd looking cars parked at the south east corner of Nepahwin Avenue. Lockerby Taxi had identical black Mercedes Ponton diesel cabs which was very unique then, and having a fleet of Mercedes cabs would be a very surprising undertaking even today. The cars always looked immaculate and the enterprise was highly respected by adults as I recall.
I recall in around 1960 the fleet of Mercedes Ponton diesel cabs used by Lockerby Taxi. I believe Mercedes manufactured these from the early 50’s to the early 60’s without changing the design. The Lockerby Taxi cabs may have been from several different years even though they looked identical.
At the Snack Bar, Mom made great coffee (as I heard from several former customers later on) with one of the old fashioned siphon coffee makers of the 40’s/50’s. The lower glass carafe would be filled with water and put on the burner. When it started to boil, a vacuum would be created in the stem, and the entire contents of the carafe would be quickly sucked up into the top hopper. After surging into the hopper where the fresh ground coffee had been loaded, the coffee would then drip down through a screen at the top of the tube on the apparatus – ingenious and so reliable.
Coincidently when I started working at a Ski Resort in the North Shore Mountains above West Vancouver, B.C. in 1984, there was an old 1926 Ski Lodge that was one of the facilities I was put in charge of. It had a small lunch counter and an oil cook stove. It also had a beat up old siphon coffee maker identical to the one my Mom had used at the Snack Bar 25 years earlier, which we used at the lunch counter exclusively for about 3 years – worked like a dream. I wish I had kept track of the contraption when it was retired from commercial use.
1940’s/50’s diner siphon coffee maker made the best coffee ever, as I was told by many patrons of the Snack Bar years later. This one in the photo is in pristine condition but after years of use, the top hopper at the SnackBar was “nicely” distressed from people banging it on something to release the grounds - the distressing over the years likely made the coffee taste even better! Just as an aside, Mom said that the main commercial coffee supplier in the day was Van Houtte – originally a gourmet coffee roaster out of Montreal. This was in the time before Starbucks and every other latecomer to the coffee world. Surprisingly Van Houtte has survived through it all and through several new owners has maintained a niche through the years in the face of very stiff competition.
In the early 40’s once the rock cut was blasted to accommodate the construction of Paris Street, it became quite the hub of activity with Nickel Belt Airways building a terminal in the Lily Creek bay. I had mentioned the Airways venture in a previous installment and I found some additional photos which I will include here – it appeared to be quite a going concern before my time.
A photo at this same location - the Lily Creek outflow at the west end of Ramsey Lake taken in 1941 by my Mom, Margaret McEachern on a hike with her friend Margaret Cuppage. My Uncle Rodger McEachern is in the middle and Stewart Cuppage on the right. I believe that the NB Airways terminal was built after the war a few years later to the left of this photo.
Life norms in the Fifties and early Sixties
When the older boys in my family turned the corner at ten years old or so, life with my Dad generally became a work detail on Saturdays. The work was mostly centered around projects related to the Berean Baptist Church which is where we kids were um, shall I say, “required” to attend. Work included either taking in the hay bales at one of Rev. J.R. Boyd’s farm fields near Lavigne east of Sudbury, or working at the Berean Bible Camp in Larchwood (and “Bible” camp it was!).
Rev. Boyd had a couple of pick-up trucks that he used to haul cattle to and fro as part of the farming ventures he took on in his limited spare time. When it came time to get gravel to make concrete for some bridge piers at the Church Camp, we would jump into the box of the truck with the cattle walls removed, all the while dodging the manure residue, to head off to a gravel pit nearby in Dowling.
We would shovel gravel to fill up the box of the truck to the brim and then ride merrily back to the camp on the Levack Highway with our shovels on top of the gravel load without a care in the world – truck bumper nearly hitting the road from the huge load. Riding in the pick-up truck box was an everyday occurrence which would not even raise an eyebrow in those days. Without the crew cabs of today there wasn’t much choice for packing all of your kids up and really it was an extension of the typical common sense “protocols” of the day which have been pre-empted in this modern age of correctness and legal liability.
Kids in the back of a pick-up truck was the norm in the 50’s and early 60’s. Pick-up trucks in those days all had a single bench seat inside the cab (made for three people – the driver, the passenger in the middle and the person who had to mess with the gate) - no crew cabs then. Most trucks like this one still had the old-fashioned “step-side” box configuration, as it’s now called.
We would also go out with my Dad to Berean Camp to help some other church men in early July with the task of opening up the sleeping cabins and the dining room. Shutters had been put on all the doors and windows in the fall. By early summer there were wasp nests on or inside every shutter it seemed. My brothers and I were pretty nimble athletically so we got sent up the ladders to spray the nests. You always had one foot ready to take off down the ladder when you started to spray.
What was in those classic sprayers you might ask –nothing other than straight liquid DDT being vapourized at close breathing range. Despite all this stuff, all of us are still kicking.
Who could forget these bug sprayers – there was no reach on these things, so you practically had to have the nozzle at the entrance to the nest to get anything done and your lungs were mere 16 inches or less away from the vapour! When using these, we were always ready to make the quick exit down the ladder to safety with wasps in full frenzy chasing us.
The drive out to Berean Camp from Nelson Street was always an adventure with so many landmarks and things to note on the drive (sometimes in back of that pick-up!). Usually we would head downtown on Elgin then onto Durham, then left on Elm Street all the way to the west end. Then you would need to make the jog over to Spruce Street to get onto the “Levack Highway” as we called it. The first landmark would be the Belton Hotel in all its glory tucked in beside the residential homes at the end of Spruce. This was so common with many of the Sudbury old school drinking establishments – er, I mean “Hotels”.
I always wanted to go inside the Belton and see what was going on with all the cars parked there. I did manage to check it off my bucket list several years later and enjoy some libations on occasion when I worked underground at Murray Mine. When you got off afternoon shift, 4 to midnight, you didn’t waste time in the “dry” getting changed in order to hit the Belton before “last call” with all the other miners working the “3000 foot level”.
The Belton Hotel at the west end of Spruce Street and the start of the Levack Highway – late 50’s. I learned about 10 or so years later what a fine place it was to get a couple of cold glasses of draft beer – always ordered in two’s by the way by any self- respecting beer swiller!
A vintage 7 oz. beer glass from the LLBO – the white ”tide line” line indicated the level where the bartender was legally required to fill the glass - no suds below the line. These glasses must have been designed by German engineers to allow the beer to flow so smoothly with no air ingestion because they sure got emptied in short order!! When I moved out to Edmonton in the mid-seventies, out there the standard tavern order was “2 and a juice” – two 7 oz. glasses of beer and a similar glass of tomato juice, which got mixed together (I never cottoned to this drink and it almost made me hurl watching guys mix the two seemingly, to me anyway, non-compatible beverages.
Next up on the Highway would be the Fisher slag crushing plant right on the edge of the road, just past the city limits, with those huge open cab bulldozers pushing the crushed slag. The enormous continuous clouds of thick grey dust from the crusher and dozers sifted over the adjacent highway – you had to hold your breath. How this was allowed?, only in Sudbury!
We would then approach the mine sites and crane our necks to try to see the active Murray Mine head frame back in the hills on the left and the then shuttered McKim Mine head frame on the right. Before you knew it, you were at Azilda – I always remember passing “Ecole St. Sprit”. We had memorized all the other schools along the main highway in order, right through to Larchwood – there must have been ten of them.
The core of Chelmsford town-site was mostly out of sight but I was always interested checking out the farms along the way. My Great Grandfather James Davey and his wife Flora (Gilchrist) Davey had homesteaded in Larchwood in around 1890, a few miles north. James Davey also taught school in Chelmsford in the early 1900’s walking every day to the school house along the railway tracks from the farm.
Once you passed Chemmy, you felt you were there. Before long you would cross over the CPR tracks and then turn left to Berean Camp just on the other side of the Vermillion River. There was a little store and gas pumps just before the bridge on the right, and I recall this store is where I had my first bottle of Mountain Dew. Boy what a treat on a hot day coming out of the ice cold water bath in that old slider pop machine – “Filled by Herb and Ruby”, I believe!
The original 1960’s hillybilly bottles for Mountain Dew – I always watched for Herb and Ruby bottles! As advertised on the bottle, it “tickled your innards”!
The old cold water bath slider pop machine – sometimes you needed to re-organize the contents of the machine so you could get to your preferred selection – your hands would be freezing from the cold water by the time you freed the Grapefruit Crush tucked away in the back corner!
Getting back to life in Sudbury, another norm for many families (most certainly ours) was leaving kids in the car in the driveway or on the street while adults visited friends. I can recall one time my Dad visiting with Harold and Myrtle Hanrahan at their house on Riverside Drive while we kids were parked on the street for hours, without so much as a check in. Another time when my Dad had an Austin van, there was a drain hole in the back cargo compartment and we were parked in the Inco parking lot out in Copper Cliff while he visited a friend. We were there so long that we ended up inconspicuously lying face down and using the drain hole to pee as workers were coming and going around us.
From the time I was about 6 to 13 years old, I recall my Mom and Dad going through so many used cars, it was a constant revolving door – a Plymouth sedan, a Mercury, an Edsel, a Dodge, a Plymouth Station Wagon, a British made Austin cargo van and finally a black Ford Station wagon, formerly in use as the “flower wagon” for Jackson and Barnard Funeral Home.
This 1960’ish photo of the tracks behind the Borgia Street Market has a British made Austin Van, like my Dad’s, parked on the right hand side. There weren’t many around and they had sliding front doors – sometimes on hot days driving from Estaire, Dad would let us leave the door open which was a very cool experience especially with no seatbelt. The "sort of seat” (not insulated) over the motor in the centre console was very hot to sit on and I recall fighting over the door seat with my brothers.
“Three on the Tree” gear shift and that seat in the centre of the cab in this 1960 Austin Van was hotter than hell to sit on!
Cars weren’t made to last very long in those days and getting “100,000 miles” out of a vehicle was as rare as “hen’s teeth” as adults used to say. In fact, in the later 60’s my brother Jim and I got a deal on a vintage turquoise and white 1957 Pontiac. The guy charged us $25, as is where is! It was parked in one of the old lower parking lots at Laurentian University, plowed in under about 6 feet of snow. Buddy was being fined weekly by the University and the old car was dead - he just wanted to get it out of there to stop the bleeding. Jimmy and I went out to Laurentian and dug it out, boosted the battery and vroom!, we had a very cool car for 25 bucks! Anyway in 1969, the car was only 12 years old but it was perhaps the only late 1950’s style vehicle on the road in Sudbury being used on a daily basis that I can recall. If there were others, there sure weren’t very many. My current vehicle is ten years old with almost 160,000 km (100,000 miles) and it looks and runs like the day it came off the lot.
In this early 1960’s photo of the recently demolished Kingsway Hotel – the turquoise and white 1957 Pontiac, third parked car from the left, may well have been our car ten or so years earlier – see Tommy Whiteside’s Esso Station in the background.
Mufflers weren’t made to last either in those days. I remember a near annual event was my Mom going to get the muffler changed at a garage that backed onto Memorial Park in a lane behind Moses Men’s Wear off Durham Street. Sometimes when the boss wasn’t around, the mechanic there would let us go up in the car on the hoist for the duration of the repair as long as we agreed that we weren’t allowed down until the job was done.
Just over from the garage also backing onto Memorial Park was “Church Row” on Larch Street. I may have it wrong, but I seem to recall Knox Presbyterian, St. Andrews United, the Church of the Epiphany, and First Baptist Church – all side by side on the south side of the street between Lisgar and Minto. If you were confused on the nature of your faith in those days, you sure had a lot of options near downtown Sudbury.
Memorial Park in the early 60’s – see the back of the Churches in the background – the muffler garage was on the left behind the churches – accessed on a lane off Durham Street – somewhere around Godard’s Appliances and Moses Men’s Wear.
In around 1960 we headed out on a road trip to Brechin, Ontario just south of Orillia to visit my Dad’s Grandmother’s homestead (the Gilchrist family), where his relatives were still farming a nice patch of land. They had all the fixin’s – cows, dogs, chickens, rusty old tractors to climb over, a big barn full of hay that smelled like cow poop etc. – what fun for a bunch of kids. There were no fast food joints in 1960 along the highway – no Timmy’s, Starbucks, McDonalds, A&W or anything of the sort.
In those days, you pulled over at one of the small roadside stops along the two-lane, narrow shouldered Highway 69 and had a picnic lunch. Maybe your Mom and Dad would crack open a thermos of coffee. In our case, we pulled over at a rest stop near French River and Mom had brought along her trusty 10” knife, a couple of big fresh tomatoes and a loaf of white bread. I can recall her doing her thing at one of the supplied picnic tables. Mom was a tomato sandwich expert and she would skillfully peel (yes, peel!) and slice the tomatoes in her palm with this oversized weapon. She would then dole out the tomato sandwiches on wax paper (back in wax paper’s heyday) on the picnic table – no salt or pepper or mayonnaise – just sliced tomatoes and oh!, they were so good!
A typical early 1960’s roadside picnic – this particular image would be a bit more elaborate than ours with the table cloth, but the idea was the same for sure – kids running around and Mom making lunch!
When we would go to work on a Saturday morning at Berean Camp, Mom would make nearly a full loaf of salmon sandwiches for the four of us (Dad and the three brothers). The sandwiches would be all wrapped in two’s with wax paper (I still recall how to wrap a sandwich in wax paper as taught by Mom). One small can of pink salmon would be used to make the entire loaf – Mom would spread that stuff so thin you needed a magnifying glass to make out the thin orange line of salmon, but after a morning of hard work, they were so delicious!
Some of the home amenities we enjoy today were not affordable in the days of “no credit cards”. When we were kids, my Mom somehow acquired a used, first generation front load washing machine which she wore out trying to keep up with the kids. We couldn’t afford a dryer so the clothesline off the back porch on Nelson Street was always full.
This is the same machine we had in our basement only ours was plain white – a mid-1950’s vintage Westinghouse Spacemate (also good for practicing your ball hockey shooting in the basement trying to accurately hoist the rubber ball into the recessed glass bowl in front when Mom wasn’t around – this activity probably assisted in its early demise). Another aside – I recall the use of the word hoist in relation to playing hockey as kids – playing “shinny” with no shin pads in those days, someone would always make the declaration for the etiquette of the game - “no hoisting!!”.
After the washer packed it in, my parents couldn’t afford a replacement so we had to frequent the Wash n’ Dry on Howey Crescent right at the foot of the curling club road. We’d go along with Mom and when we were bored to tears waiting for the “umpteenth” load to finish, we would end up scrambling around the rocks up behind. We had to somewhat behave ourselves as Mrs. Stuart, my Grade 7 teacher at Prince Charles, lived at the end house before the laundry on Howey.
Mrs. Stuart had a somewhat regal persona, with an always perfect beehive hairdo. She was a great teacher, and probably the only one I ever had, who was able to get me motivated to try harder in my schooling. I’m sure that most everyone had one of those very special and memorable teachers in their own school days!
Also in our basement on Nelson Street, an old gravity furnace took up almost half of the floor area. The clumsy and inefficient “Octopus Furnace” had originally burned on coal when the house was built in the early 30’s. You could tell where they had dumped the burned coal cinders out the back window of the basement as they were piled up against the back wall of the house.
This photo could well have been taken in our basement on Nelson Street – we had the same unit and you can see why it was called an Octopus Furnace! Ours had been converted from a coal burner to fuel oil. The octopus arms went everywhere at our place and some were real head bumpers. You could see the flames from the burners through little holes in the burner shroud – scary!
At some point, probably in the later 40’s, the previous owners had converted the furnace to run on fuel oil. The oil was fed to the furnace by a fuel line from a tank located at the side of the house. After a couple of years at the house, my Dad had the furnace replaced with a more modern unit. It also ran on fuel oil but it took up a fraction of the space and had an efficient blower which circulated warm air to all the cold spots through new basement ducting.
Most houses in the 50’s and 60’s and even beyond, had these familiar oil tanks beside the house or in the basement – they would feed the fuel oil (similar to diesel) to the furnace by gravity and would get filled annually – most by Davey Fuels in Sudbury in those days.
My youngest brother was born when I was almost nine years old so I had a good recollection of having a baby around the house. I recall a couple of things in particular – the diaper pail being one of the most notable. The poop got scooped, then into the pail went the diaper to soak with bleach and water – thankfully the pail had a lid! Cleaning diapers was a full time job for Mom on top of everything else.
1950’s enamel diaper pail with lid, used to soak cotton cloth diapers.
Another item always around was a box or packets of baby pablum which formed the staple of many baby’s diets, for the couple of years after getting off the milk bottle in those days. Sometimes when we were low on Shredded Wheat or didn’t have any “Multi-Milk left, I’m embarrassed to say, we’d hit the pablum packets without Mom knowing. The stuff mixed up with water, sort of like instant mashed potatoes, and even though it looked gross and smelled a little funny it was actually pretty tasty with a hint of sweetness. I was unaware at the time that Pablum was a Canadian invention with a somewhat questionable background during its development as a baby formula, see link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablum.
Baby Pablum – I seem to recall using individual serving packets to mix up this oddly tasty paste for a snack – Mom probably wondered what was up when there was none left for the baby.
Another example of “grossness” in the early 1960’s was a child dietary supplement called “PolyMulsion”. A mixture of vitamins and other mystery ingredients including a bit of orange rind flavour, emulsified into a thick syrupy deep yellowish liquid, with an horrendous after taste when you gulped it down. Mom would call us in and announce it was time for our weekly tablespoon dose of PolyMulsion. If you could hide or somehow dodge my Mom you would do whatever was necessary!
Mom acquired this unpleasant elixir from the door to door “Rawleigh Salesmen” who canvassed throughout the city neighbourhoods passing off other selections of “health products” (pronounced – “snake-oil”) to unsuspecting housewives who were all just trying to keep their kids healthy in those days.
Rawleigh’s also had a medicated ointment which competed with the Ozonols and Mecca Salves of the 1950/60’s – prior to the dozens of selections of Polysporin that you can find now. Surprisingly Mecca and Rawleigh’s Ointments are still available today in their near original retro style small tins.
Vintage tin of Mecca “Salve” as Mom called it – a very gooey concoction always at hand at our household. It had an unforgettable aroma that could heal you with just the smell.
I recall Watkins also had a door to door guy and I can remember Watkins Syrup but not sure if my Mom used it or if they used it at Church Camp. Speaking of Church Camp – it was the Freshie capital of the world – or maybe they used Watkins Syrup? You got a “bottomless” glass of Freshie at all meals and then you got another gulp just before bedtime – which I could never figure as a good idea for a nine year old kid? Freshie was cheaper than Kool-Aid which made it the drink mix of choice for most Sudbury families who were predominantly on a budget in those days.
Not many commercial healthy snacks were packaged up or available like they are now so home-made items were mostly necessary. A bowl of blueberries with Multi-milk, homemade apple sauce with milk or spread thickly on white toast would be a real treat in season. Or how about biting off chunks of the rhubarb growing in the corner of the backyard - dipping the end of the stalk in white sugar for each bite – tart and sort of bitter, but curiously tasty? Kind of like the half grapefruit with sugar sprinkled on top and the fussy process of cutting out the wedges with the wrong sized knife. Peeling an orange was so much sweeter and easier, but again it was something about that grapefruit bitterness that was compelling. Also these were the times when all grapefruit were very sour and yellow, no genetically modified sweet ruby red grapefruit from Costco in those days?
A less healthy “go to” option – usually also made without Mom’s knowledge, would be a sugar sandwich. Either brown or white sugar spread with a spoon onto white bread which already had a healthy spread of (“red-dot squeezed) margarine on both pieces of bread to bond the assembly together. Mom talked of when she was going to a one room school house near Basswood Lake in the early 1920’s and telling us her lunch staple every day was a canned bean sandwich – so of course they too were on our menu growing up – who didn’t love canned beans as a kid?
The 1950/60’s, and I’m sure previous to that, were the days of the wood slat baskets. For blueberry picking, usually out in Stinson past Wahnapitae, it was the classic 6 quart basket that would take forever to fill. Picking was always disheartening until you got to at least the second layer – we’d go over and checkout Dad’s basket and it would be already a quarter full with ours not layered yet?
The baskets of the day were not made of cardboard but rather meticulously built with a rather thick wood bottom and curved wood veneer slats carefully inset in an oval shape into the bottom and reinforced with a wood strap around the top – then fortified with a robust wooden handle. They are still around but not common, replaced by cheap imitations.
Vintage well-constructed wooden 6 quart basket – universally used for blueberry picking- it seemed at least an hour to get that bottom layer filled as a kid!
The same goes for the bushel basket of the day. In the autumn, Rev. Boyd would stop by our house and drop off a full bushel basket of apples from his farm. They were not store bought hand eating apples for sure! They were covered with blight and deformities – but my Mom would sort through and deftly cut out the cores and the nasty spots with her trusty 10” blade knife (which I still have today). She would then boil the apple sections and then use her vintage sauce mill to grind out big bowls of apple sauce. There was no sugar added, yet it was always so good and had a nice rich pinkish colour from the residual skins left on through the processing.
Vintage apple pickers bushel basket – quality workmanship with sturdy articulating and easy to carry wire handles allowed these baskets to last many seasons of use in the orchards of the day. You didn’t throw these guys away!
When you were a kid and you weren’t blueberry picking, or at the playground or playing in the rocks - perhaps trapped inside during bad weather, you might take on one of the popular indoor hobbies of the day. At one point we had a starter “Meccano Set” that you could do some basic assemblies with, but the options were limited unless you got all the bells and whistles with upgrades to your set. The advertisements on the boxes always drew you in with the illustrations of kids building elaborate cranes making you always want to get your parents to purchase “Outfit No. 2”, which in our case was never going to happen as it was very far out of our price range.
The crane picture made it look like it was more fun than it actually was with just the beginner set – for crying out loud, you had to have the hands of a jeweler to manipulate those tiny nuts and bolts!
For me, I really enjoyed starting a stamp collection. My Dad had a pretty thick and quite impressive “Stamp Album” which he had started when he was young. It was carefully put away with some rather precious stamps still loose in little wax lined envelopes. I would take it out and leaf through the pages looking at all the wide array of stamps from all over the world, some of which he collected in his travels while in the Navy in WWII. I would also go to the library and check out books and stamp collecting periodicals and envy some of the big valuable stamps from countries such as Monaco and Brazil. My humble album had mostly easily accessible items, but it was fun nonetheless to collect them and paste them in with those special little stamp collection stickies that didn’t affect the “stamp licking stuff” on the actual stamp.
This stamp would have been in my album along with the one to five cent denominations of the same vintage – most of my stamps already had post marks like this one - cut off my parents and Grandmother’s mail. Queen Elizabeth was quite the doll back in the day – no disrespect intended!
In Grade 7 Mrs. Stuart requested for a long term project that everyone develop a rock collection over the school semester to turn in just prior to the end of the year. Trying my best for Mrs. Stuart, my Dad had a book detailing a summary report of active mines in Canada, and I proceeded to hand write a letter to every mine in the country at the addresses noted in the book.
Well this is the best project ever. After a couple of weeks the mining companies started mailing rocks or ore samples from their mines. I would run home from school to check our mail box and it seemed that I would have a package just about every day – sometimes more than one. I can’t say how gracious all the representatives of the mining companies were – they provided me with volumes of information and nice little samples (plus expensive postage which was cut off the envelopes to join my stamp collection). My Dad helped me mount all of them on a plywood frame with white glue – being a part-time prospector, he seemed as interested in the project as me. In the end I had well over 100 different rock samples – from Saskatchewan Potash to Galena lead from the Yukon. My collection was much more comprehensive than most kids’ handful of rocks found along the road edge or up in the “mountains”. I got an “A” of course and for once I felt like school was a worthwhile way to spend my time!
For any kids with more serious nerd tendencies, they would certainly have had a “Chemistry Set” on their wish list. One of our friends had one which we dabbled with, but never managed to get any good concoctions going. These kits were very popular in the late fifties and early sixties until authorities woke up to the ingredients which if ingested, or fumes inhaled, could drop a Mastodon in its tracks. First the manufacturers were required to remove the alcohol lamps and acids from the sets and then the lead paint. By the time all the hazardous materials were removed, they were no longer any fun and by the mid-sixties they were becoming a thing of the past.
Nerdy kid with an early 1960’s chemistry set – you will expect from the look on his face that this little Einstein probably was working on something nefarious, if he didn’t blow himself up first! When I first looked at this pic, I thought the kid only had the stump of one arm – that’s fitting I thought to myself, until I took a closer look!
Speaking of dangerous substances - what was with putting a bag of powdered asbestos in the middle of the table at art class in elementary school? The students would then be encouraged to reach into the bag and grab handfuls of the asbestos powder and fibers to mix with water – clouds of lethal dust filling the air. The resulting gob was then hand molded into small figurines of animals or other artistic items which you would then paint after the material dried. Or get this, if you were low on the artistic talent scale, like myself, you would make an ashtray as a gift for your parents – a little shaped dish with raised sides and using a pencil to push in four slots to hold the cigarettes around the lip! It’s a wonder that any kids from those days have made it this far!
And while I’m on ashtrays, my Dad had quit smoking by the time I was around 10 years old, but there was still an ashtray around the house. Even if your parents didn’t smoke, it would get put away and dragged out for company. People weren’t shy about puffing in other people’s homes in those days – it was the norm. I don’t recall men, like my Dad’s old Navy buddy, even asking permission – he just sparked up and we kids raced for the ashtray (then sit and listen intently as he chain smoked and told tales of what a character my Dad was back in the Navy days – much to Mom’s chagrin!).
Art class at public school was a tough one for me, as I didn’t have much talent in that area as mentioned. There always seemed to be one kid in each class that was head and shoulders above everyone else. In my class there was Alvin Racicot – the guy was drawing like Michelangelo when he was nine years old. The rest of us were pretty disheartened when the teacher started mounting our stuff on the wall beside Alvin’s real-life likenesses.
I will not forget the day in Grade 6, Mrs. Coburn’s class, when the Principle Mr. Wasylenki knocked on the classroom door and with a very grave expression on his face and in his tone, announced that President Kennedy had been assassinated. It was certainly very distressing to hear the news and most kids in the classroom started to cry at the loss of such a heroic figure in world affairs at that time. Kennedy was very highly regarded by most Canadians during that era, especially when compared to the rather bland personality of Lester Pearson, Canada’s Prime Minister in the early sixties (although you gotta hand it to old Lester, championing the change of the Canadian flag in 1965 from the rather stuffy Red Ensign to the current and iconic red and white Maple leaf flag, was a master stroke of progress).
I also recall “Beatlemania” from that same school year in Mrs. Coburn’s class – 1963/64. Some kids in the class brought Beatle wigs to school and wore them at recess – all the talk was about who your favourite Beatle was. It was a very big deal! I didn’t start listening to music until a bit later during that golden age where old rock and roll met the Beatles and beyond. I remember our group of friends securing a copy of “24 Groovy Greats” and listening to the record over at Dennis Kuz’s house over in the West End – Tommy James and the Shondells, Percy Sledge etc. – magic stuff at the time! I think that this album was the first of those type of compilation records and it was probably the best.
A classic compilation record album from 1965 – nothing fancy on the artwork! The first record of its type where they advertised it on TV with little clips from several of the songs ”When a man loves a woman”, “Poppa’s got a brand new bag” – guitar riff etc – I can clearly recall it to this day!
I’m not certain what happened at other schools with less real estate but at Prince Charles the girls spent recess on one side of the school and the boys on the back side. At that time I didn’t ever give it a thought but find it curious now why they segregated the children.
An early photo of Prince Charles – on the right was the girls play area and the boys went to the field in behind towards the pathway down the rocks to Brady Street below .
I was surprised to find this photo of the rink at Prince Charles as I had just been thinking about this arrangement. I recall another year, the rink being on the back side (the boys side). Regardless, by the time I was attending, school rinks were being phased out in favour of the playground rinks (thank goodness for the folks at St Michaels on McNaughton for preserving their rink which accommodated many a late evening ball hockey game with one light off the edge of the school building - even up to 1970). Inter-school sports at Prince Charles was limited to fast pitch softball at that time as I recall. The pic appears to have been taken at the exit from the path that led over the rocks as the shortcut from “the Grotto” on Lourdes Street.
Dwelling a bit on Prince Charles School but thought it important to put all of these classic historical photos into some context. The photo above would have been taken from the old crushed slag road entrance to the Stations of the Cross statues. The pic clearly shows the hint of Art Deco architecture with the curved kindergarten and lunchroom areas in the front face of the school. The lower grassed field would be just to the left of this pic.
This 1930’s photo shows the future location of Prince Charles School from up in the rocks where the air raid siren was installed in 1962. I had mentioned in an earlier entry that my Dad recalled Gypsies camping here around this time and my Mom recalled the circus/ midway setting up here way back in the day. Although this group in the field looks like Bonnie and Clyde having a meeting on the site with some co-conspirators, you might notice St.Thomas School in the centre background and Alexander Public School in the far distance near the horizon – upper middle left.
This is the exact style of air raid siren which was installed and mounted on a tower on the hill above Prince Charles School in the height of Cold War tensions around the world. The requisite drills with the siren going off and kids getting directed to hide under their desks followed for several years. I’m not sure how the desk was going to protect us against the radioactive cloud, but I guess at least we were doing something to justify the installation of these sirens all over Canada.
By the mid 60’s Prince Charles School served more than our immediate neighbourhood, in which it was centrally located. I recall kids coming for “Shop” and “Home Ec” from Alexander and other schools around the city because of the excellent facilities PCPS had for those classes. Also later on, as the growing baby boom put pressure on smaller schools around the city, Grade 7 and 8 kids were bussed in from Eden Public School in New Sudbury, as well as College Street and Landsdowne Public Schools and I believe other schools after that.
For me, the biggest and most anticipated day of the Elementary School year was “Play Day”, as we called it. I’m not sure what other schools did but at Prince Charles, each class would line up with their teacher and compete against other classes in a series of events during the day. The “two person wheelbarrow race”, the “egg in a spoon race” and other rather old school relay competitions were the order of the day along with some individual track and field undertakings. I remember feisty little Judy Whiteside doing the “Western Roll” over a lofty bamboo pole at the high jump pit. She almost separated her shoulder landing on the compacted sand – no Fosbury Flop or cushioned pits in those days, only the Western Roll and the "Scissors" jump!
At the end of Play Day, everyone assembled in lines and ribbons were handed out to the top classes, or those who accomplished the best results in the track and field events. Red for first place, blue for second, and green for third place. I don’t specifically recall winning a ribbon but I do remember how much I looked forward to that annual event – especially since it was the last school day of the year!
In my “junk box” somewhere in the rafters (the box where my Mom collected memorabilia from growing up), I have a page with all of the people in my Prince Charles Grade 8 graduating class listed. The page is folded and I can clearly visualize the classic blue typed printing generated from a retro Mimeograph or Ditto machine as they were known in the days before automatic “photocopiers”. How many sheets were cranked out of those hand operated machines back in the day?
A classic Mimeographed page – typewritten original with black ink then hand cranked through the machine with that familiar blue ink.
When my Dad was working night shift in the CPR yard, my Mom was desperate to get us out of the house during non-school days so we wouldn’t wake him up while he was sleeping in the day. We would mostly go and visit my Aunt Mary and cousins, the Maley family, over in the West end on Whittaker St just off Elm. The Maleys had a rock outcrop in the basement, which the house had been built around – typical of many homes in Sudbury back in the day and great for playing on – very cool and damp in the summer.
Sometimes on very special occasions or as a reward for good behavior, after the visit, we would drive out on Notre Dame and get a cone at the Merla Mae on Lasalle Blvd. It was cheaper than the DQ and Mom was always strapped for funds - it must have been close to “Pay Day”.
Pay Day was a big deal in those days - not the electronic funds transfer to which we are now accustomed. It meant a trip to the bank with the CPR “Pay Cheque” and withdrawal of funds to pay off the bill at Christakos and have enough cash on hand to cover incidentals. When the cash ran out so did the purchase of any treats.
Affordable treats were few and far between for our family but I do remember occasionally getting a Popsicle at Tammies on Elgin Street at the Old Iron Bridge. There was a perfect sharp corner on the bricks at the entrance to the store on which you would position your Popsicle with one hand and whack it with the palm of your other hand to break it down the middle to share – very seldom did you get a whole popsicle for yourself.
A familiar popsicle wrapper – I remember when they came out with banana flavour, probably not a natural ingredient in the thing but it did “sort of” taste like bananas and it was certainly a popular selection - along with blue raspberry flavour??
We would sometimes be able to get a pop from the store and I seem to recall that MacDonald’s Beverage products from North Bay were marginally cheaper than the name brand drinks from Star Bottling in Sudbury. This was before the Pop Shoppe changed everything about purchasing pop in Sudbury. MacDonald’s also made Temagami Dry ginger ale which was quite popular in those days.
MacDonald and Sons Bottling out of North Bay before Mountain Dew came out, made the great flavours like Cream Soda (both the clear and pink ones), Root Beer and Orange, all of which were popular in our neck of the woods in the early 1960’s
Another item that is probably long forgotten is the cork lined bottle caps from those days.
Pop bottle cap with the old cork liner! I recall back in the day when there were contests from the pop companies, when you scooped out the cork liner there would be prize offering printed off underneath – a pre-cursor to the days of “roll up the rim” from much later on.
Temagami Dry ginger ale was another very popular drink from the MacDonald’s people in those days before RC Cola and the Pop Shoppe – note the M on the labeling for MacDonald and Sons .Many might remember going to the local confectionary store with a pop bottle to get 2 cents worth of “penny candy”.
I also recall the tail end of Silver Foam’s niche in the market in Sudbury bottling. They made beer mostly (many local taverns exclusively had Silver Foam on tap – I’m told) but the company also got the license to bottle Orange Crush and the variations of Crush (remember Grapefruit Crush, what was with that?) in the mid-1950’s.
Just thinking about “Grapefruit Crush” – there were a couple of other odd ball tasting items that started up around this time and which required an “acquired taste” – “Thrills” gum and Ginger Delight “chocolate bars” to name a couple.
I’m not sure how those two treats got past “Armbruster” in the product development boardroom – gum that tastes like soap, and chocolate covered jelly that tastes like biting into a raw ginger root? The very surprising thing is that they still make this stuff 60 years later.
An ad from a 1955 edition of the Sudbury Star – it looks like Orange Crush coming to Sudbury was a pretty big deal! The Sudbury Brewing and Malting Company makers of” Silver Foam” beer, had a sizeable niche in the Sudbury market back then for both beer and soft drinks.
My Uncle remembers the night my Dad first met my Mom at the McEachern house on Cedar St. in 1947. After the tavern at the Coulson had closed for the night, my Dad had acquired a sack of Silver Foam beer from a “bootlegger” which he brought along at 2 AM with my Mom’s brother, a fellow WWII Navy vet. The late night beer drinking, with my Dad operating the sack of suds between his feet, gave the boys the munchies. This necessitated my Mom, who was obviously showing some interest in the visiting young man, making the inebriated lads her specialty at the time - a fried egg sandwich with a dash of Worcestershire Sauce. It was all over after that - my Dad recalled it as the best thing he had ever eaten! Perhaps this is when the saying “the way to a man’s heart, is through his stomach”, was coined or at the very least confirmed?
1960’s cork lined Grapefruit Crush cork lined bottle cap.
Who could forget these 7 oz. Silver Foam ginger ale bottles from the 50’s/60’s – a “Rye and Ginger” served -up for sure!
Another thing we occasionally got at Tammie’s Confectionary on Elgin Street at the Bridge, were pocket packs of “firecrackers” – both the 1-1/2” length red ones (you had to untangle the fuses), and maybe a pack of the tiny ones where you would set off the entire pack with the one tangled fuse.
Regular 1-1/2” firecrackers – you would normally unravel the fuses on this size for individual mischief purposes - however the tiny 3/4” ones you would set off the entire pack for the machine gun effect. .”Do not hold in hand after lighting” noted on the top of the pack was all we needed to know – 10/4 - message acknowledged and understood!
There was no Canada Day or Canada Day celebration in those days and as far as we were concerned, we didn’t know Queen Victoria from a hole in the ground in relation to the May holiday. It was always “Firecracker Day” to us, the same as with every other self-respecting sulphur dioxide breathing kid in Sudbury in the early 1960’s. Whatever happened to the term “Firecracker Day” – did I miss something?
Very occasionally you would have someone in the neighbourhood who had somehow acquired a “Block-buster” fire cracker – usually a “bad kid” – every neighbourhood had a few. The Block-buster was a five inch long red firecracker, about half an inch in diameter (only 4 to a pack) which threw a pretty good punch compared to the little match stick ones we had. They were not sold to kids in the store.
A 1960 pack of “blockbusters” – usually only able to be somehow acquired by bad kids or neighbourhood bullies as I recall?
Someone having a pack of Block-busters was big news as usually setting one off required a staging of an explosion, blowing something up with a bunch of kids around to take it all in. Putting it under a pint basket was one lame way of disposing of one of these prizes – but they were meant for a more noble purpose like exploding an old discarded toy or something that had been manufactured. I don’t recall hearing of firecracker accidents in those days - it seemed that every kid had the common sense to be able to light the fuse with a match and discharge the small “explosive” in a safe manner.
To be continued in Part 5 – coming very soon …